Thursday, December 9, 2021

YOU ASKED IT | 3 December, 2021

What did you think of the trailer of Kabir Khan’s 83?

– The trailer of 83 is outstanding and gives the impression that the film will be a blockbuster of epic proportions. It could be one of the biggest hits of Hindi cinema, if not the biggest! Going by the trailer, the film would have thrills, the patriotic flavour, drama, melodrama, and all this, in the game of cricket which is religion for Indians.

Why do you not review films before they are released whenever you watch them in advance?

– There are several reasons for not posting the reviews before the film is released. For one, if the film is good, it is alright, but if the film is below the mark, a reviewer cannot be insensitive enough to spoil the film’s chances BEFORE it is available to the public. For, the final judge is the paying public, not any reviewer. Secondly, many reviewers shamelessly write negative reviews of films which they are not shown in advance if they get to know that one or more trade analysts like me have been shown the same film in advance. It would shock you to know that there are reviewers who openly issue threats to producers and warn them that they would ruin the chances of their films by writing negative reviews or giving one star if they are not invited in the first screening or if a special screening is not kept for them. Such reviewers aren’t even scared of their conversation with the producer concerned being recorded and posted on social media because they feel, the conversation would serve as publicity for themselves (even if it is negative publicity) and would, therefore, increase their standing on social media!! Thirdly, if a producer invites me for a film screening as a friend, I cannot ‘misuse’ my friendship and post the review in advance. Once the film is open for the public to watch, I cease to be the producer’s friend (for the limited purpose of expressing my viewpoints on the film) and am entitled to post the review.

Would you term Antim a successful film?

– Not just I, anybody who understands film business would have no hesitation in calling ANTIM a success. Only those who consider the film as a Salman Khan starrer would call it a flop. The fact is that this is an Aayush Sharma starrer and hence it is a success. The trade knows that Salman Khan is not the main hero of the film, that Aayush Sharma plays the negative hero in it, that the budget of the film is not what the budgets of Salman starrers are, that Salman Khan’s price has not been paid and, therefore, the film’s cost is less than the recoveries. Even if one considers just the box-office collections, they are good for the film’s cost. It would not be out of place to compare this film with SECRET SUPERSTAR. In that film, Aamir Khan played a lengthy guest appearance but nobody called it an Aamir starrer. Had they done so, that would not have been termed a hit!

YOU ASKED IT | 26 November, 2021

In business terms, what would you term Bunty Aur Babli 2? Why did it underperform? Is it because people are not coming to the cinemas in full force?

– A box-office flop is what BUNTY AUR BABLI 2 is. Never mind if the producers have recovered their entire cost from non-theatrical sources, but it has performed badly at the ticket windows. And no, the reason for it underperforming is not that the public is not coming in full force to the cinemas. Had that been the case, SOORYAVANSHI would not have fared so well in cinemas. The reason for the failure of BUNTY AUR BABLI 2 is simplythat it was not liked by the paying public.

What are the implications of Reliance Entertainment pulling out Sooryavanshi from all the Carnival properties for a day (on 21st November) due to default in payment of distributor’s share by the latter to the former?

– It is a signal that after the lockdown, financial matters are very serious business. They always were a serious matter but more so now. Prior to the lockdown, the industry used to function on the principle of give-and-take, but the position after the reopening of the exhibition sector is so bad that the old style of doing business often does not hold good. It’s because every sector was shaken very badly during the lockdown.

Is Aamir Khan’s decision to bring his Laal Singh Chaddha to the cinemas during Ramzan a wise one?

– Times are not normal. Therefore, the rules which the industry people followed all these years may not be needed to be followed in these extraordinary times. Besides, since Aamir Khan plays a Sikh in the film, its release on Baisakhi day makes a lot of sense even if Baisakhi will fall in the Ramzan days.

YOU ASKED IT | 19 November, 2021

Will the producers of Sooryavanshi make profits in the final tally? Or have they paid so much interest for the 20 months of delay that all their profits have been wiped off?

– They will comfortably make a good amount of profit. Of course, had there been no lockdown, their profit figure would have been far more but considering the delay, the profit figure expected now is also substantial.

Why did Sanjay Leela Bhansali shift the release date of his Gangubai Kathiawadi? Is there much logic in coming just a week after Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha which is slated for release on 11th February?

– Sanjay Leela Bhansali must’ve realised the futility of clashing with another giant, RRR. As for coming a week after another big film, LAAL SINGH CHADDHA, there are rumours that it may be postponed and hence Bhansali has chosen 18th February as the date of release for his film.


– Y.

YOU ASKED IT | 12 November, 2021

Given the first week’s business of Sooryavanshi, would you say that Reliance Entertainment and Rohit Shetty’s wait for more than 19 months to release the film in cinemas was worthwhile?

– Yes, it was. Had the film released in normal times, it would have been one of the highest-grossing films of Akshay Kumar, if not the highest-grossing film.

When will the promotion of 83 start? What kind of an initial do you expect the film to take?

– The promotions of 83 should start in a fortnight’s time. According to me, the cricket film will take an extraordinary initial.

Will Dharma Productions’ new film, directed by Shakun Batra and starring Deepika Padukone, Ananya Panday and Siddhant Chaturvedi, release in cinemas or straight on OTT? What is its title?

– Modalities about its release are being worked out. The plans have not yet been revealed. As for the title, the film is still without one.

YOU ASKED IT | 5 November, 2021

Given that the release date of Sooryavanshi had been announced many days back, couldn’t the issues of sharing and showcasing terms have been settled between the producers/distributors and national multiplex chains earlier to prevent the undue delay in opening of advance booking due to the uncertainty?

– Of course, the issues could have been settled earlier, but the question was about who was going to blink first. Both the sides to the dispute had to show to the other that it was the stronger side. Hence the issue defied a solution till the last moment.

What kind of an initial do you expect Sooryavanshi to take today (Friday, November 5)? Wouldn’t it have been better to release the film yesterday (Thursday) to take advantage of Diwali (Laxmi Pooja)?

– Collections on the day of Laxmi Pooja are adversely affected because ladies of Hindu households and, oftentimes, entire families avoid going to the cinemas on that day as they are busy with the festivities and preparations for the Laxmi Pooja. As for the initial of SOORYAVANSHI, the first day’s collections will leave everyone dumbstruck. Bollywood is back — and how!

Who has found it more difficult to restart operations after the lockdown — producers, distributors or exhibitors?

– Who hasn’t found it difficult to restart after a gap of so many months?

YOU ASKED IT | 29 October, 2021

Will any corporate production house be willing to launch Aryan Khan, now that he has been to jail?

– Of course, there will be a queue of corporate production houses waiting to sign Aryan Khan. For one, he is superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son. Secondly, he has the sympathy of the majority of Bollywood buffs because they feel, he did not deserve to be behind bars for so many days.

Although cinemas reopened last week, why was there no major film that released last week or this week?

– Pre-Diwali days are considered dull for the box-office. Also, with the permissible occupancy in many of the states being 50%, no producer wanted to take a chance in these dull (for the box-office) days.

Can Sooryavanshi even now net Rs. 200 crore?

– Yes, it can. It’s just that because of the restrictions on cinema capacities in various states, it may take a couple of extra weeks to touch that figure.

YOU ASKED IT | 22 October, 2021

Can any film, releasing in November this year, net Rs. 50 crore on the first day?

– The house-full capacity at the permitted 50% capacity will not be Rs. 50 crore. Hence the question of a film collecting Rs. 50 crore on the first day does not arise.

Is there a limit on show timings in Maharashtra, as in many other states?

– Not really. Cinemas in Maharashtra can stretch the timing of the start of the last show till around 10 p.m., it seems, because the state government has not specified any restrictions.

With cinemas across almost the entire country having reopened now (only cinemas in Kerala will reopen on 25th October), after the reopening of cinemas in Maharashtra from today (October 22), does it mean doomsday for OTT platforms as producers will now return to the old formula of premiering their films on the big screen and then releasing them digitally?

– Not at all! Even in the pre-COVID days, OTT platforms were doing very well. Besides, content will now be made specially for streaming platforms, alongside content for the big screen. Of course, this was the case earlier too but much more content will be made specifically for streaming platforms now. In other words, cinemas and OTT platforms will co-exist — and beautifully, at that!

YOU ASKED IT | 15 October, 2021

Will the arrest of Aryan Khan in the drugs case adversely affect his stardom when he is launched in films?

– Unlikely! Salman Khan became a far bigger star than he was, after his arrest in the black buck case and his involvement in the road accident case. Sanjay Dutt’s KHAL-NAYAK did hit business even though it was released soon after his arrest in the arms case. Rekha’s PHOOL BANE ANGARAY became a hit although it was released less than a year after her husband, Mukesh Agarwal, committed suicide for which many held the actress responsible. Like it or not but oftentimes, controversy and legal tangles work in favour of the stars (whether established or upcoming) involved.

Would Shoojit Sircar now be regretting his decision to premiere Sardar Udham on Amazon Prime, especially because cinemas all over the country will be operational just a few days after his fllm will start streaming on the OTT platform from 16th October?

– Not at all. Shoojit Sircar signed the deal with Amazon Prime recently, when it was clear that cinemas all over India would be open very soon. According to Sircar, once his film is ready, he gets impatient and wants to release it as soon as possible. Secondly, he says, he had a great experience with the OTT platform in GULABO SITABO which was also premiered on it last year. Thirdly, there’s no question of guilt in him as, according to him, he and his partners were aware of what they wanted.

Why is there a feeling in the trade that producers of only those films which are not commercially viable, sell the premiere rights of their films to OTT platforms during the lockdown?

– If there is such a feeling, it is wrong. We’ve had films like SHERSHAAH and GUNJAN SAXENA: THE KARGIL GIRL which were premiered on OTT platforms and have done well. The success ratio of films, whether premiered on OTT or in cinemas, is low — and that’s the universal truth.

YOU ASKED IT | 8 October, 2021

What is the logic behind two big films, RRR and Gangubai Kathiawadi, releasing together in the first week of January 2022? It was believed that the first week of January is inauspicious for new film releases.

– Yes, there is no sense in releasing two big films in the same week, but you will see this happening some more times in the near future because there’s a huge backlog of unreleased films, thanks to the lockdowns. As for the first week of the year being inauspicious, well, NO ONE KILLED JESSICA was released in the first week of 2011.

If Sooryavanshi is slated for release in the first week of November, why has the promotion not yet started? Are the producers having a change of mind?

– There is no change of mind. The film has been so much in the news that even two weeks of promotion should suffice.

During the lockdown, especially in the aftermath of Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise, when Bollywood was being maligned left, right and centre on social media, it was made to seem that cinema in general and Bollywood films in particular had no future. But the way films are being announced by production houses in recent times, it appears that the future of both, cinema and Bollywood, is secure. Your comments, please?

– The badmouthing of Bollywood on social media was instigated by a few disgruntled industry people and the electronic media. If you think, a handful of frustrated souls within the industry or equally frustrated souls on social media and in the electronic media can decide the fate of the film industry, you are sadly mistaken. It is the paying public and only the paying public which can decide which way the industry’s future is headed, and the public seems to be gung-ho about Bollywood and cinema.

YOU ASKED IT | 1 October, 2021

What films does Priyanka Chopra have in Hollywood and Bollywood currently?

– Priyanka Chopra’s TEXT FOR YOU is ready for release. It is directed by Jim Strouse and revolves around a young woman who loses her fiancé, but keeps sending romantic messages on his old phone number till she ultimately develops a deep bond with the current owner of the telephone number. She will also be seen in Hollywood film THE MATRIX: RESURRECTIONS alongside Keanu Reeves. She has CITADEL, with Richard Madden, and an Indian wedding comedy, with Mindy Kaling. There’s also a film based on the life of Maa Anand Sheela lined up. In Bollywood, she has JEE LE ZARA with Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt. In other words, her hands are full.

Why did so many producers announce the release of their big films no sooner than the Maharashtra government granted cinemas in the state permission to reopen?

– It is because these producers have waited for months together to release their big films in the cinemas. By announcing the release dates, they have, in a way, secured the dates in the hope that no other big film would release on that date.

With so much content available on OTT platforms, how do you think, films will be able to run in cinemas once normalcy returns?

– The world had feared that films would have no future in the cinemas, even when television was making inroads into people’s homes. Just like cinema survived the TV boom, it will survive the OTT boom too. There’s an audience for all kinds of entertainment.